How to Frame With LVL Beams

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Laminated veneer lumber, or LVL, is an engineered wood product. It is made from sheets of veneer peeled from logs. The grain in each layer of veneer runs in the same direction. The sheets are bonded permanently using an exterior type adhesive and a continuous press which is operated under precise heat and pressure. The usual thickness is 1-1/2 inch to 1-3/4 inches. This is the same thickness as dimensional lumber. Although LVL is heavier than traditional lumber, the framing process is the same as with dimensional lumber. LVL is used for high-strength, load-carrying beams that support loads over roof systems, floors, window and door openings. You may fasten LVL beams together to create stronger beams.

Things You'll Need

  • Laminated veneer lumber
  • 3-1/2 inch nails
  • Circular saw

Use the supplier's span tables to determine the size of beam you will need based on the span.

Sometimes you will be required to use a two- or three-ply beam.Two-ply means two pieces fastened together and three-ply means three pieces fastened together. For a two- or three-ply beam, fasten one beam to the other by nailing two rows of nails across the length of the beam. One row across the top of the beam and one row across the bottom. If the width of the beam is grater that 12 inches, add another row of nails across the middle of the beam. The nails should be spaced 12 inches apart. This nailing pattern is used on two-ply and three-ply beams only.

Cut the beam to the desired length using regular tools such as a circular saw or mitre saw.

Place the beam in its permanent position. LVL beams don't require any special fasteners. You can either nail the beam in place or use top flange or face mount hangers. These hangers are metal casings that support the ends of the beam. The minimum bearing requirement for LVL beams is three inches. Bearing is the surface area of a structural member where the weight or load is transferred.

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